There’s lots of “free” stuff on the internet. Most things are aren’t free seem to whither and die on the vine.

The problem is that it minimally takes time and energy to put stuff together and it costs money to host it somewhere.

That’s the best case labor of love scenario.

A lot of sites require people other than just the one guy or girl to make it. Sure, it’s their labor of love. It’s a lot harder to get other folks to sign on as well. That’s when real money starts to rear its ugly head.

Let’s talk about some real-life examples for me.

  • Dropbox – It the synchronized drive in the cloud. Install it on all your computers and all of it gets mirrored everywhere. Accessible everywhere from the web too. They give you a gig or two of space free and add more for referrals. I’m using only a smidgen more than the free+referral that I’ve gotten thus far.
  • LastPass – The best password manager I’ve every seen. Their awesomeness blows me away every time I use them. It works on Mac, Windows and Linux with Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Opera, IE. It has an iPhone app (and an Android one that I’ve never used). The premium gives you access to the mobile apps basically.
  • Evernote – Kinda like Dropbox but for searchable notes and documents and stuff. It’s the google for my brain. By that I mean that I can just dump stuff in there unstructured but I can still fine them when I want. I can tag and categorize as well to help out the search process. The premium raises your monthly cap on uploads. I don’t think I ever got close to my cap.
  • FetLife – Ahem… well. Just a reminder that you are not alone. Sometimes I need a reminder too.
  • Toodledo – A little todo organizer to bug you when you need to get something done. I’m bad at getting stuff done. It’s one of my many failings. I like to try to fix my failings though. Premium gives you sub-tasks, stats, and a host of other features to help you out.
  • AdvRider.com – Good info about the motorcycles I ride. Well, will ride after my bicycle injury clears up. Aside: I’d be fine if I were on the motorbike since I have boku padding all over — including where I hit. Even though I wouldn’t have hit there either.
  • SmugMug – The awesome phone site run by the folks that give you AdvRider.com for free! They have a small free level, but anything of value really does require payment. But I think the layout and flexibility just make it rock. I also like to support them because they give back to the community.

All of these have a free level and a premium level. Sometimes the premium level brings with it nothing of real substance extra. Sometimes it turns off ads.

That begs the question “why the hell, George, are you giving your money away?”

Simple. Two reasons:

  1. I want the service to stay around. If they don’t have the cash to pay the bills at least for the servers they stop serving up a web site. Labor of love or not the internet is not run on charity.
  2. It makes me feel good. If I was on the other side of the packet, what would I want? Just apply the golden rule to that. If you’re getting something of value, you might as well chip a few pennies in the virtual hat. It’s just like the musicians at the train station; kick in a bit, they made your day a bit better.

I don’t really have a horse in this race. I should since I like to call myself a developer, but I don’t; I have no freemium site or service out there. I do encourage you guys to think about it though.

These are some of the things I support. Everyone uses different stuff. Everyone should at least give it a think and maybe sign up for something you use and get something out of.